CD+DVD Reviews

Murali Coryell – Murali Coryell Live – Shake-It-Sugar Records (CD + DVD)

New generation blues man carries the torch.

Published on January 23, 2013

Murali Coryell – Murali Coryell Live – Shake-It-Sugar Records (CD + DVD)

Murali Coryell – Murali Coryell Live – Shake-It-Sugar Records SSR-01, CD (72:46) + DVD (51:50) [1/22/13) ****:

(Murali Coryell – guitar, vocals; Dorian Randolph – drums, vocals; Vince Leggiere – bass; Bill Foster – guitar; Stacey Waterous – saxophone – vocals; Cameron Melville – organ; Henry Oden – bass; Dave Fleschner – keyboards)

With his pedigree, Murali Coryell could have developed into a jazz player like his father, Larry. But this axe man chose the blues as his inspiration. Reflecting legendary musicians like B.B. King (recommended by his father), Albert King and Albert Collins, Coryell embraced traditional blues and rock influences like Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix. A fixture on the New York Hudson Valley scene, he has opened for George Thorogood, Gregg Allman, Wilson Picket and B.B. King. His affinity for rhythm and blues has shaped his gritty guitar style and vocals.

Shake-It-Sugar Records has released a live dual-disc (CD + DVD) performance (recorded at two separate venues) that captures the spirit of this modern blues purveyor. The CD, recorded at Club Helsinki (in the Hudson Valley) opens with an anecdotal story about Coryell’s first “meeting” with Jimi Hendrix as an infant at the Fillmore East. The jam on “In The Room With Jimi” is an unabashed tribute to The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Coryell’s passionate guitar licks are terrific, including wah-wah. Next is a soulful jaunt (“I Can’t Give You Up”) that explodes with crisp hooks and grooves. There is a segue into the chorus of Dave Mason’s “Feelin’ Alright” that gets the crowd going. Coryell’s music is fueled with r&b vibe and his singing on “I Could’ve Had You” is smooth and affecting.

If nasty blues is your preference, “Softly Let Me Kiss Your Lips” has a slow-burning intensity that is shaded with saxophone and organ. All of the tracks are extended jams and feature Coryell’s instrumental mastery. “Sugar Lips” percolates with muscular urban swagger. He swings with the band, interacts with the audience, even summoning the club owner to jump in on B-3. He is a blues enthusiast, acknowledging Buddy Guy’s birthday and engaging in a fierce guitar trade-off with Bill Foster. This dynamic flows on the late night-inspired “Love Her With A Feeling”. Coryell pays homage to Marvin Gaye (via Donny Hathaway) on “What’s Goin’ On”. The combination of up-tempo guitar rhythm and gospel vocal does justice to a seminal piece of music. Above all, this is a performer who expresses heartfelt emotion and has fun sharing this.

The DVD, recorded at the Roots & Blues Festival, has a different band lineup and set list. Highlights include “Minor Funk” (another groove fest that includes a fine organ solo by Dave Fleschner) and a spirited version of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me”. With dedicated artists like Murali Coryell, blues music will be passed on to a new generation of enthusiasts.


CD: Live At Club Helsinki: Introduction To In The Room With Jimi; In The Room With Jimi; I Can’t Give You Up: I Could’ve Had You; Softly Let Me Kiss Your Lips; Sugar Lips; Love Her With A Feeling; Music Sets You Free; What’s Going On; The Blues Is Taking Its Place; Closer To You Baby

DVD: Live At Roots And Blues: Intro; Sugar Lips; Minor Funk; In The Room With Jimi; Calling From Another Phone; Please Baby Please; The Blues Is Taking It’s Place; The Same Damn Thing; Way Too Expensive; Bring It On Home To Me

—Robbie Gerson

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